Jail figures reveal just one per cent of 252 executions were convicted terrorists
LAHORE: Only 25 out of the 252 convicts executed in Pakistan since the moratorium on the death penalty was revoked in December 2014 were terrorists, according to data compiled from prisons across the country. These figures come as a surprise as countries across the globe marked the 13th World Day against Death Penalty on Saturday.
Pakistan resumed executions on December 19 last year three days after a horrific massacre of 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar by the Taliban. This was a part of the revised anti-terror strategy chalked out after the attack.
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The first ones to be executed were two militants convicted of attacking the army’s headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi 2009. However, only 23 more convicts of terrorism have been sent to the gallows since then with all the others executed for crimes like murder, kidnapping and rape.
In Punjab prisons, there are 5,469 death-row convicts, including 48 women. Mercy pleas of 49 convicts have been rejected by the president and they are awaiting execution.
Among those executed for terrorist activities, 13 were tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), while 12 were hanged after being convicted by military courts. Among them were eight militants involved in trying to assassinate former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and one terrorist who had attacked the US Consulate in Karachi. Those court-martialled were three former air force officials, three army officers, a son of a retired army official and an army sepoy.
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Of the 13 terrorists tried by anti-terrorism courts, eight belonged to the banned sectarian extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and were convicted of sectarian killings. Three more were hanged for hijacking a PIA plane going from Turbat to Karachi in 1998.
Advocate Tipu Salman Makhdoom feels the government lifted the moratorium on executions to divert attention from the real issue. “What the government should do is: arrest terrorists, establish cases against them and give them exemplary punishment,” he said, “Terrorists always go scot-free.”
Advocate Nadeem Anthony said most of the death sentences were issued on the basis of a faulty judicial process. “In some cases, police obtain confessions through torture which then results in conviction. Police applies the ATA even if the case has no connection to terrorism activity,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2015.